Behind the Scenes of Except in the Unlikely Event of War

Josette_FB-300x110It’s opening night tonight for Sean Devine’s new play that I have the pleasure of being in. We had a preview audience last night. It went very well. (I knew it would because I figured out my hair do. It’s all about the hair for me. This was my first beehive). We are rather tired after a series of ten out of twelves – so I am grateful for this “sleeping in” time this morning before opening. Last night my fatigue showed only once when I had to list twelve psychologists, sociologists and physicists in a row and I got to Frank and said “And Frank is a psychot-socio- forgive me Frank. Frank is a psychiatrist.” No he isn’t. But tonight, he will once again be the sociologist he trained to be. I also get to play a robot. Something unexpectedly difficult to do live. There can be no “um” or game’s over. Why the fellows find this robot sexy, I don’t quite understand. But I’m not complaining.

I have enjoyed this process immensely. Sean is a new writer and a very promising one. He has certainly sprung out the gate with horseshoes and Horseshoes. But he made this “luck” happen for himself. He approaches theatres he admires and suggests a co-pro with his own company, producing his own script and having some artistic say in the end product. He works diligently and with great humility and flexibility. He had his first production, Re:Union, with the established Pacific Theatre and the support of his own theatre company (Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Theatre) and now is co-producing this with Pi Theatre: another outfit with a great consistent reputation for excellence. Pi, in particular, did the acclaimed Terminus, last year, written by Mark O’Rowe: a grotesquely exquisite poetic script from Ireland. Richard Wolfe is the smart and impossibly easy going AD of Pi. He’s also the best dressed theatre practitioner in town. I look forward to rehearsals every single day just to see his footwear.

Sean smartly invited suggestions and dramaturgical input from everyone involved and yet he also stood by his vision: a balance that many find difficult to achieve. I’ve never been so free with my suggestions in the room before and it was refreshing to never have to worry about ego and also, to be working with a group of people who all knew how to make helpful smart suggestions that were based on a belief in the play itself and respect for the core ideas Sean has in the play. Hats off to stage manager Lois Dawson and AD Richard Wolfe who created this safe respectful efficient and open environment to create in. Considering how many elements were involved in this play (video, extensive audio, etc) Richard was super smooth and seemingly effortless about it all. It’s been a fantastic experience. I’m not just gushing. Sometimes the process is simply delicious. This is the case here.

Though this has been a traditional creative process, it certainly has felt collective. The idea of “collective creation” works when there is respect for everyone involved, when there’s a freedom to discuss ideas without fear of ego, and when each person is clear about their job description and has the autonomy and authority to create something out of all the ideas presented.

Josette Jorge’s star has risen quickly, or so it seems to the outsider, haha. She’s certainly been working like a hot damn on her craft since graduating. She’s done three new plays in a row (Simon’s Sisters at the Gateway and Aaron’s Play with Monsters with Solo Collective) She’s smart, beautiful and has a great sense of humour. What a lovely human. She also has legs as long as a grasshopper, but that’s beside the point. She hopes to someday do a part that doesn’t require her to be Asian. But hey, we all have a niche! Run with it, baby!

And finally, I get to work with Robert Moloney. I first saw ol’ blue eyes in a Kiss Project about twenty years ago and thought, “Hey, that guy is going to go places, he’s terrific”. And yes, of course, anyone in the theatre community here will know Robert and be familiar with his agility, great sense of comic timing and his soulfulness. He’s a pleasure to work with. Both he and Sean really take the piss out of each other in this show.

And the design team is spectacular. I’m so glad that Sean has this kind of support for his play. It makes a huge difference. I have been extremely fortunate in my career too in this regard. We are so lucky in Vancouver to have such fine lighting sound set and costume designers. Only once did I have a horrible design and it really threw off the directing and tanked the show. I’ve always admired great design, but before I experienced a bad one, I never realized just how important design was.

I know Sean’s already thinking about his post production draft, as any good writer does. But I hope this brainiac allows himself a moment to enjoy his accomplishment. The legs of a new play are always wobbly, but this one holds its own on the dance floor.

For tickets go to http://www.artisaweapon.ca






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